Reflexivity

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Reflexivity

In previous papers (e.g., Finlay 2002), I have distinguished between reflexivity as introspection, as intersubjective reflection, as mutual collaboration, as social critique, and as ironic deconstruction. More recently, I have added strategic, contextual–discursive, embodied, relational, and ethical reflexivities to the list (Finlay, 2012; Finlay 2017).

The table below presents and compares six particularly influential types of reflexivity.


Type of reflexivity

Focus

Commonly associated methodologies

 

Priorities in practice

Strategic methodological reflexivity


Interrogating methodological and epistemological aspects considering the intention and impact of the research design and methods


Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods

Seen mostly in early planning stages; accounts offered in method and discussion sections of papers


Ethical reflexivity

Monitoring procedures, power dynamics and the impacts of research on participant, researchers and/or readers/audience


Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods

Focus on ethics seen commonly at proposal stage and in method and discussion sections of papers

Embodied, personal reflexivity

Introspective probing of the researcher’s thoughts and feelings and embodied felt sense, including the gestural duet between researcher and participant


Phenomenology, narrative inquiry, autoethnography, constructivist grounded theory, heuristic and creative methodologies


Enacted mostly during data collection and analytic phases or in self-standing autobiographical pieces

Relational reflexivity

Examining the intersubjective, interpersonal, transactional realm and the mutual or co-created collaboration involved

Phenomenology, narrative inquiry, constructivist grounded theory, conversational analysis, autoethnography, ethnomethodology


Enacted mostly during data collection and analytic phases

Contextual-discursive reflexivity

Deconstructing the impact of discourse/language, and offering a social critique intersectionality, situational and socio-cultural elements including probing the professional relevance of the study


Discourse analysis, narrative inquiry, ethnomethodology, ethnography, post-structural and/or critical social research

Seen particularly when positioning the researcher’s subjectivity in the planning and data collection phases plus in discussion sections of papers

Disciplinary reflexivity

Analysis of the nature and influence of the field of enquiry, discussing the professional, political, epistemological and/or theoretical relevance of the research


Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods

Applied mostly in discussion sections of papers as well as scaffolding the literature review

Finlay, L. (2002). Negotiating the swamp: the opportunity and challenge of reflexivity in research practice, Qualitative Research, 2, 209-30.

Finlay, L. (2012). Five lenses for the reflexive interviewer. In J. F. Gubrium, J. Holstein, A. Marvasti, & K. D. McKinney (Eds.), The Sage handbook of interview research: The complexity of the craft (pp. 317–331). Sage.

Finlay, L. (2017). Championing ‘reflexivities’. Qualitative Psychology, 4(2), 120–125. https://doi.org/10.1037/qup0000075


Categories:

Reflexivity

In previous papers (e.g., Finlay 2002), I have distinguished between reflexivity as introspection, as intersubjective reflection, as mutual collaboration, as social critique, and as ironic deconstruction. More recently, I have added strategic, contextual–discursive, embodied, relational, and ethical reflexivities to the list (Finlay, 2012; Finlay 2017).

The table below presents and compares six particularly influential types of reflexivity.


Type of reflexivity

Focus

Commonly associated methodologies

 

Priorities in practice

Strategic methodological reflexivity


Interrogating methodological and epistemological aspects considering the intention and impact of the research design and methods


Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods

Seen mostly in early planning stages; accounts offered in method and discussion sections of papers


Ethical reflexivity

Monitoring procedures, power dynamics and the impacts of research on participant, researchers and/or readers/audience


Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods

Focus on ethics seen commonly at proposal stage and in method and discussion sections of papers

Embodied, personal reflexivity

Introspective probing of the researcher’s thoughts and feelings and embodied felt sense, including the gestural duet between researcher and participant


Phenomenology, narrative inquiry, autoethnography, constructivist grounded theory, heuristic and creative methodologies


Enacted mostly during data collection and analytic phases or in self-standing autobiographical pieces

Relational reflexivity

Examining the intersubjective, interpersonal, transactional realm and the mutual or co-created collaboration involved

Phenomenology, narrative inquiry, constructivist grounded theory, conversational analysis, autoethnography, ethnomethodology


Enacted mostly during data collection and analytic phases

Contextual-discursive reflexivity

Deconstructing the impact of discourse/language, and offering a social critique intersectionality, situational and socio-cultural elements including probing the professional relevance of the study


Discourse analysis, narrative inquiry, ethnomethodology, ethnography, post-structural and/or critical social research

Seen particularly when positioning the researcher’s subjectivity in the planning and data collection phases plus in discussion sections of papers

Disciplinary reflexivity

Analysis of the nature and influence of the field of enquiry, discussing the professional, political, epistemological and/or theoretical relevance of the research


Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods

Applied mostly in discussion sections of papers as well as scaffolding the literature review

Finlay, L. (2002). Negotiating the swamp: the opportunity and challenge of reflexivity in research practice, Qualitative Research, 2, 209-30.

Finlay, L. (2012). Five lenses for the reflexive interviewer. In J. F. Gubrium, J. Holstein, A. Marvasti, & K. D. McKinney (Eds.), The Sage handbook of interview research: The complexity of the craft (pp. 317–331). Sage.

Finlay, L. (2017). Championing ‘reflexivities’. Qualitative Psychology, 4(2), 120–125. https://doi.org/10.1037/qup0000075


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